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Courage In To Kill A Mockingbird, By Harper Lee

1162 words - 5 pages

Harper Lee's novel "To Kill a Mockingbird" explores how courage can be shown in several important characters in the novel. They are Mrs. Dubose, Atticus, Jem and Maycomb county itself. Courage exists in several forms as cleverly depicted in the novel, such as childish courage, moral courage.

The first iconic character in the novel known for her split personality and great moral courage is Mrs. Dubose. She was a morphine addict and was addicted to morphine as a painkiller prescribed by her doctor for many years. Despite her being an old, frail lady, who could have just "make(made) things easier" by just continuing to take morphine as Atticus put it, she chose the other path contrary to popular beliefs. Instead, she persevered, choosing to "die beholden to nothing and no one", showing her sheer determination and will to live. Also, Atticus wanted Jem to read to Mrs. Dubose not only as a punishment for his misdeeds, but he also wanted to show Jem what true courage really was. He wanted to show Jem that a courageous person is not "a man with a gun in his hand", and that Mrs. Dubose was an excellent example and Atticus looks up to her despite her prejudiced remarks against him such as "nigger-lover". When Jem and Scout was reading to her, they were terrified of her "undulating lips" with "chords of saliva" dripping out of her mouth and that it had a "seperate existence of its own". What the children failed to see in the beginning was what lied underneath those gruesome series of withdrawal fits - true moral courage. Upon the death of Mrs. Dubose, Atticus also mentioned that "she won", not by having a gun in her hands, but with her sheer will power and determination. He hoped that Jem and Scout would be able to respect such a courageous old lady she was. Harper Lee also did not choose a principled character such as Miss Maudie in the portrayal of such courage, but instead used Mrs. Dubose to portray courage instead. This made Mrs. Dubose an interesting and outstanding character with contrasting characteristics in the eyes of the reader. Lee also indirectly trying to show that there is goodness in everyone, despite their evil natures.

Another character that portrayed different kinds of courage is Jem. However, his perceptions of courage changed throughout the course of chapters 1 - 16, as he began to mature. In the beginning of the novel, Scout mentioned that Jem had "never declined a dare" in his entire life, which exhibits his childish perceptions of courage, that courage was merely accepting to dares presented to him. In addition, he "loved his honour more than his head", which exhibits his stupidity rather than his bravery, because this shows that he accepts dares blindly and never though about his safety nor consequences of performing a dare. His new-found 'bravery' led him to commit ridiculous acts of 'courage', such as running up to the Radley's Place, touching it, and running back because he "wanted Dill to know once and for all that he...

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